Maternal Mortality: NASS to prevent 800 women from dying daily

Korinjoh ReginaMay 29, 20245 min

The country’s struggle with a high maternal mortality rate reflects systemic issues that require a multifaceted approach. GESI Tracker follows the activities at the National Assembly from May 22nd to May 24th and highlights the legislative measures taken to address maternal mortality.

GESI Tracker: Maternal Mortality Rates
GESI Tracker: Maternal Mortality Rates

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) factsheet, every day in 2020, almost 800 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal mortality remains a significant public health challenge globally, particularly in developing countries like Nigeria. The country’s struggle with a high maternal mortality rate reflects systemic issues that require a multifaceted approach. In this context, exploring the intersectionality of gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) is crucial for understanding and addressing the underlying causes of maternal mortality.

The Current Landscape:

Nigeria’s maternal mortality ratio stands at approximately 576 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest globally. Currently, Nigeria ranks as the fourth highest in the world. The numbers are not any better when it comes to child mortality rates, as approximately 262,000 babies die at birth each year, placing Nigeria second globally for newborn deaths. These are numbers from the report factsheet by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 

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Similarly, the 2023 United Nations Report on Trends in Maternal Mortality from 2000-2020 revealed that nearly 28.5% of global maternal deaths happen in Nigeria. The northeast part of the country has been the worst hit due to recurrent conflict in the region. 

These statistics underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions to improve maternal health outcomes. Pregnant women in Nigeria face numerous challenges, including limited access to quality healthcare services, inadequate prenatal care, cultural norms that prioritise male offspring, and socioeconomic disparities that exacerbate health inequities.

GESI Tracker: Maternal Mortality Rates in Nigeria
GESI Tracker: Maternal Mortality Rates in Nigeria

Gender Equality and Maternal Health:

Gender inequality is a pervasive issue in Nigeria, affecting various aspects of women’s lives, including healthcare access and decision-making autonomy. Discriminatory social norms often restrict women’s mobility and decision-making power, hindering their ability to access timely and appropriate maternal healthcare services. Furthermore, the prioritisation of male children in some cultures can lead to neglect or substandard care for pregnant women carrying female fetuses, contributing to maternal mortality.

Social Inclusion and Maternal Health:

Social inclusion ensures that marginalised groups, including rural communities, ethnic minorities, and economically disadvantaged populations, have equal access to resources and opportunities. In Nigeria, disparities in healthcare access and utilisation disproportionately affect these marginalised groups, leading to higher maternal mortality rates. The WHO factsheet also stated that the maternal mortality rate in low-income countries in 2020 was 430 per 100,000 live births versus 13 per 100,000 live births in high-income countries.

Other factors, such as geographic remoteness, poverty, and lack of education, intersect to create barriers to maternal healthcare access and utilisation. 

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Addressing maternal mortality in Nigeria requires a concerted effort to promote gender equality and social inclusion across all levels of society. Also, by addressing the underlying determinants of maternal mortality through a GESI lens, Nigeria can make significant strides towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, including reducing maternal mortality rates and ensuring universal access to quality maternal healthcare services. Hence, for this week on GESI Tracker, the motion speaks to the need to grant free public medical care to pregnant women during and after delivery. 

GESI FOCUS

MOTION

  • Need to Allow Pregnant Women to Access Free Medical treatment from Public Health institutions during and after Delivery.

SPONSOR: Hon. Mohammed Dan Abba Shehu – Zaki Federal Constituency, Bauchi. 

Rep. Mohammed Dan Abba Shehu highlighted the government’s responsibility to provide free medical services to pregnant women through public healthcare institutions. The motion addresses the need for better prenatal and postnatal care, citing high fertility and infant mortality rates as urgent issues. It calls for modern facilities and skilled birth attendants to reduce maternal and infant mortality caused by diseases and pregnancy complications. Deputy Speaker Rep. Benjamin Kalu has instructed the House Committee on Healthcare Services and Healthcare Institutions to work with the Minister of Health and Social Welfare to ensure compliance with new directives to enhance healthcare services for pregnant women. The committee has been given a four-week timeframe to report back for further legislative action. The resolution was passed, and the House awaits further actions based on the committee’s findings and recommendations.

Adedoyin Adesokan contributed to the article from Abuja

Korinjoh Regina

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